Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 22, 2017.
Webpage updated: March 22, 2017

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JOHN MATTERS (1838-1911)

John Matters was born at Battan's Farm, Bere Ferrers, Devon, in 1838.

He received his education at the church school at Bere Alston, run by Mr and Mrs Burke and which was managed by Sir Frederick Shelley, the father of Sir John Shelley.

At the age of 12 years John started work at a grocer's shop owned by an aunt and he stayed there until he was 18 years of age.  He then went to work, with two brothers, at the South Tamar Copper Mine.  They were there for only a short time before his brother decided to emigrate to Pennsylvania, USA, with his family and John went with them.  Two other brothers then joined them and they all worked for three years at the Big Run Mine.

John and a brother-in-law the moved to Michigan, Lake Superior, where for the next 2 years they worked at the Cliff Mine.  He might have stayed there but in 1861 war broke out between the North and the South and in November 1861 he returned to Devon, where, in 1862, he joined the Devonport Borough Police as a Constable, under Mr James Edwards.  In March 1863 he was promoted to Sergeant.

In 1870 he was promoted to Inspector and in 1893 he was appointed to the post of Chief Constable in succession to Mr Samuel Evans.  Mr John Matters retired from that post on Wednesday April 1st 1908, having served in the Devonport Borough Police for 46 years.

After his retirement, Mr Matters was elected to the Devonport Board of Guardians and in 1910 he was nominated for a seat on the Borough Council representing Nelson Ward but he lost to Mr J J Cramer by one vote.  Unfortunately electioneering on a cold winter's day badly affected his health, which deteriorated to the point where his death was not unexpected.

Mr John Matters died in Devonport on November 22nd 1911.  He was survived by his widow, Jane, and four children, one of them being Engineer-Lieutenant J C Matters, then serving aboard HMS Archer.

His funeral was attended by the above-named son along with Mr T E Elliott and Mr E R Badcock, sons-in-law; Alderman W Littleton, Deputy Mayor of Devonport; Mr J H Watson, the Chief Constable of Devonport; and several former officers from the Plymouth and Metropolitan Police Forces.  The bearers were current and past members of the Devonport Borough Police Force.  He was buried at the Plymouth Cemetery.